THE YAKUZA
1975, Warner Bros., 112 min, USA, Dir: Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack directs this potent, poignant thriller that blends American neo-noir and the then-peaking Japanese yakuza film genre. Robert Mitchum is a world-weary private eye who joins up with a taciturn kendo instructor (yakuza movie icon Ken Takakura), who has a wartime obligation to Mitchum. Likewise, Mitchum owes past wartime comrade Tanner (Brian Keith) a favor as well, and it’s a humdinger: Rescue Tanner’s kidnapped daughter in Japan. A labyrinthine plot is set in motion, and soon Mitchum and Takakura become embroiled in a horrifying series of double crosses and mixed signals that result in a trail of bloody retribution. Adapting the story by Leonard Schrader, Paul Schrader and Robert Towne wrote the moody screenplay. Co-starring Richard Jordan (THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE), Keiko Kishi, Herb Edelman, Eiji Okada. The sleek production design by Stephen B. Grimes not only evokes the spartan Japanese lifestyle but also amply reflects an atmosphere where cold, serpentine violence can strike from the darkness like a coiled viper. “Mitchum is at his laconic leaden-eyed best as the private eye who is forced to team up with a reformed criminal played by Takakura, an icon of the Japanese gangster genre … there are enough double-crosses to satisfy the most jaded fans of the genre.” – Channel 4 Film (U.K.)


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